RICHMOND, Ky. – WKU Softball secured its fifth come-from-behind victory of the 2019
season in Wednesday’s midweek tilt at Eastern Kentucky as the Hilltoppers rallied
for a 6-5 win from Gertrude Hood Field. Recording a hit in all but two innings on
the day, WKU saw Jordan Thomas, Paige Carter and Maddie Bowlds each record two-hit
games. Kelsey Aikey (4-3) picked up the win in the circle after throwing five
innings of two-hit ball in relief.
“Our offense was key today,” head coach Amy Tudor opened. “Several players stepped
up and produced runs for us. Maddie Bowlds was perfect from the plate while Jordan
Thomas provided three RBI and Rebekah Engelhardt’s solo shot was clutch. I’m proud
of the fight and composure we showed today.”
The Hilltoppers improved to 19-5 overall with the victory in Richmond and extended
their current win streak to four. Eastern Kentucky moved to 13-10 on the year with
the loss. WKU out-hit EKU 8-3 on the day while going its fourth-straight game
without an error.
“We also played outstanding defense out there today,” Tudor continued. “Jordan
Vorbrink’s diving catch in left field to end the game was incredible.”
WKU struck first to open Wednesday’s midweek tilt at Eastern Kentucky with a pair of
runs in the opening inning. Shannon Plese was the first Hilltoppers on base after
drawing a one-out walk before she advanced to third on a Paige Carter bunt single.
From there, Kendall Smith dropped a single into left field to plate Plese and move
Carter to second. After a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position,
Kennedy Sullivan sent her fifth sacrifice fly of the season to deep center field to
bring Carter home for the 2-0 lead.
EKU responded with a leadoff home run in their first trip to the plate to cut the
Hilltoppers’ lead in half. In their next trip to the plate, the Hilltoppers got the
run back after Maddie Bowlds sent a leadoff double to the left-center gap and moved
to third on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Davis. A Jordan Thomas hit through the left
side brought Bowlds in for the 3-1 WKU lead.
In the bottom of the third, Eastern Kentucky took advantage of four-straight walks
and a bases-clearing double to score four runs in the frame and take a 5-3 lead.
Before the inning was over, WKU went to the bullpen as Kelsey Aikey checked in for
her eighth relief appearance of the season.
Bowlds connected with her second hit of the day to open the Hilltoppers’
fourth-inning offense. She advanced to second on a fielder’s choice that saw Jordan
Vorbrink get on board safely before both runners moved into scoring position on a
groundout by Aikey. On the next pitch, Thomas sent a bases-clearing triple to
centerfield to tie the ballgame at 5-5.
After a strikeout by Aikey and a grounder in the bottom of the fourth, EKU finally
saw a runner reach base again after the Hilltoppers had sat down eight-consecutive
batters. The Colonels runner would ultimately become one of three stranded on the
Three pitches into the top of the sixth inning, Rebekah Engelhardt got every bit of
a 1-1 pitch, sending her fifth home run of the season off the roof of the hitting
facility past left-center field. The longball tied her for the team-best mark and
would ultimately become the game-winning hit, giving WKU a 6-5 lead.
Returning to the dirt, Aikey continued to carve up the Colonel batters as she struck
out two more EKU hitters. Between the punchouts, Aikey allowed her lone walk. She
added her eighth strikeout for the first out in the bottom of the seventh before a
flyout to right field and a full-extension diving grab by Vorbrink in left field for
the final two outs.
The junior improved to 4-3 in the circle on the season with the 5.0-inning outing.
She allowed just two hits across her 73 pitches while striking out eight.
“After Kelsey Aikey faced her first batter in relief she was huge for us in the
circle,” added Tudor. “She attacked the zone and was focused. She did an excellent
job for us today; I was proud of her performance.”
Sullivan drew the start in the circle and worked 2.0+ frames of one-hit ball before
exiting with four walks and two strikeouts.
Thomas (7), Carter (3) and Bowlds (2) each recorded multi-hit days for the
Hilltoppers. With 3 RBI, Thomas added her second multi-RBI outing of the season as
Plese’s walk in her first plate appearance of the game gave the redshirt-senior a
team-best 17-game reached base streak.
NEXT GAME: With its 12-game road stretch in the books, WKU Softball’s next contest
will take place on The Hill this weekend as Charlotte comes to town for a three-game
series. Action will open at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday with a doubleheader before